Living Lab Radio on WCAI

Mondays at 9am and 7pm

Living Lab Radio brings you conversations at the intersection of science and culture. Connect with scientists for fresh perspectives on the week's news - science and otherwise - and a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Do you have a question, story, or photo to share? Email us at livinglabradio@capeandislands.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Host and producer Dr. Heather Goldstone.
Credit Maura Longueil

Living Lab Radio is produced by Heather Goldstone and Elsa Partan.

Major support for Living Lab Radio is provided by The Kendeda Fund.

Shaughnessy Naughton of 314 Action helps scientists run for political office.
Courtesy 314 Action

When it comes to midterm elections most of the conversation so far has been focused on party politics and whether the president's involvement would help or hurt certain candidates.

But there is something unusual about this round of elections -- an unprecedented number of candidates who are scientists. There have been 60 at the federal level this year.  

Akira Hojo / unsplash

Religion has been part of the human experience for as long as anyone can figure out. Religious behavior, in general, has declined in many parts of the world, but it tends to bounce back when there is a tragedy of some sort. And recent computer models suggest that religious beliefs are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. What else could computers tell us about this deeply human phenomenon?

NASA

Later this week, NASA is expected to launch the Parker Solar Probe on a mission to touch the sun. Well, almost touch the sun.

AFFOA, http://go.affoa.org/

The words "knitting" and "high-tech" may not sound like they go together, but the latest generation of knitting machines is enabling some pretty futuristic stuff. It’s a new world of wearable technology that we might actually want to wear.

Fires burning in Sweden can be seen from space, as in this NASA photo from July 20, 2018.
NASA, https://go.nasa.gov/2vq4PZR

This summer has brought intense heat to much of the Northern Hemisphere and severe wildfires – not only to the American West, but to places like Sweden. Heat waves, droughts and wildfires are all events that climate scientists say are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of human-caused global warming.

NOAA

Each month, we speak to our colleagues at the Journal Nature to hear about the stories they are following. Our guide this time around is Adam Levy, multi-media editor and host of the Nature Podcast.

Over the past decade, as climate change has been driving increasingly extreme weather around the globe, the political debate in Washington has also grown more extreme.

Republicans, in general, have moved further from the scientific consensus and in their opposition to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. But a growing number of conservatives are moving back in the opposite direction, embracing the science of climate change and proposing free-market solutions.

credit: Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Lab - Roy Kaltschmidt, photographer. https://tinyurl.com/y758ayc8

There are many private testing services that will decode your DNA, catalog the foreign chemicals in your blood, or identify the bacteria living in and on your body. So it might come as a surprise that if you sign up for an actual biomedical research study, you might not be privy to what the scientists learn about you.

Courtesy WHRC, www.caperivers.org

Cape Cod is known for beaches, not rivers. But rivers are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding and addressing coastal water quality issues. And it turns out that the Cape’s rivers have been relatively neglected by scientists as well as the public. Not so anymore.

Courtesy STEP-GTP, www.step-gtp.org

Earlier this month, the Israeli government passed a law declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people. The move was seen by many as putting the country’s Jewish identity above its democratic one.

A new project aims to get scientists to take another look at work that can't be reproduced.
Elsa Partan

It’s not easy to admit that you’ve been wrong. But everyone makes mistakes and scientists are no different.

But when a researcher makes a poor choice in the lab or misinterprets his or her results, and that becomes part of the permanent scientific record, that can have far-reaching implications.

Courtesy Blue Bus Productions and Ambrosino/Delmenico

For many of us, pain is a daily part of life. Maybe it’s stubbing a toe, maybe it’s chronic back pain. Either way, a lot of money and effort go into finding ways to reduce pain.

But what if you couldn’t feel any pain? It wouldn’t be as great as you might think.

The research takes aim at white-footed mice, which spread Lyme disease.
D. Gordon E. Robertson / Wikicommons / http://bit.ly/2x5pogV

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket aren’t just hotspots for summer visitors. They’re hotspots for Lyme disease. That, plus the fact they are islands, make them attractive places to try novel ways to stop the spread of Lyme disease.

Kevin Esvelt of MIT’s Media Lab has a particularly innovative – and potentially controversial – idea about how to do just that. Esvelt’s idea is to genetically modify mice to make them permanently and heritably immune to Lyme disease. They call the project Mice Against Ticks.

Ines Álvarez Fdez / unsplash

We’ve been manufacturing at home for millennia, from stone tools to clothes and textiles – sewn, knit, woven. Today, most of us purchase more than we make. But one technology expert says that tariffs on imports from China could change that, by making even small, everyday plastic items cheaper to make than to buy. 

In January of this year, president Trump’s physician announced the results of his annual physical, including a cognitive evaluation. President Trump is thought to be the first sitting president to undergo such a cognitive evaluation, and it grabbed a fair bit of media attention. Many news outlets not only shared the result, but many shared the test, itself, or information about it.

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